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  • I was living in France when this film was first released. I had seen the stage play and thoroughly enjoyed it. The film was so good I actually saw it twice over it's opening weekend.

    The bulk of the action is set in an English boarding school in the 1930s. This is marvelously portrayed - school bullies, inter house rivalries, the cadet force, cricket - and there is some marvelous interaction between Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. The latter's impassioned defence of Stalin is understated comedy at its finest.

    This is a film of great subtlety and beauty, well acted, and underpinned by a haunting soundtrack.
  • This film is both visually and dramatically impressive. From the outset, we are treated to lavish cinematography of Eton College and its grounds and the surrounding countryside. This is contrasted with the drab scenes of Moscow from where Guy Bennet recounts his story. Everything is bathed in a golden glow, backed up by the sound of boyish voices singing hymns (the title itself comes from popular school hymn 'I vow to Thee my Country'; which was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997).

    This contrasts starkly with the brutality of the school's disciplinary system, where one boy is so ashamed of being caught in a homosexual act that he hangs himself in the school chapel. Those who question the school's code become outcasts, such as Bennet and Judd, unless they are 'useful' in some way - ie when Judd is needed to prevent an unpopular boy becoming head of house.

    One important fact I noticed is that you hardly ever see a master in the school, and you never see the boys in lessons: this shows Eton not as merely a school, but as a microcosm of society with its own specific hierarchy.

    There is interesting character development: Bennett, initially a philanderer who takes nothing seriously, eventually realises that he is a confirmed homosexual and begins to understand Judd's vision of a perfect society possible through communism ('not heaven on earth, but earth on earth - a just earth')Similarly Judd realises that sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice one's principles for the greater good.

    There is a lot about this film that is hackneyed - the bullying, sadistic prefects, the angelic boys with floppy fringes singing chapel anthems, the stock rebellious phrases etc, (and I won't even mention Guy Bennet's ludicrous old-man makeup)but overall it is a beautiful piece of cinematography with some good acting from the young Mr Everett and Mr Firth.
  • Another Country is a very telling portrait of life at one of England's top private schools in the 1930s. On the surface, everything looks perfect. Privileged youth frolics in a variety of beautiful locations, whilst receiving the best education money could buy. It all looks idyllic, but of course, there is a dark underbelly of violence and prejudice that provokes a life changing decision for the main character, Guy Bennett, played very elegantly by Rupert Everett. Colin Firth's character provides a nice Communist commentary on the appalling elitism of English society and he and Everett both turn in exceptional performances. This movie clearly launched both of their careers.

    Although the natural beauty of the locations would have made it hard for anyone to make an ugly picture, this film is so exquisitely shot and scored, that it is almost painful at times. Sure there are some bad moments (Rupert Everett's terrible make up for his scenes as the aged Bennett springs to mind and there is a certain clichéd quality to some of the scenes) but on the whole, the good far outweighs the bad.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 1983 Julian Mitchell wrote a play based on fact about a young man (Guy Bennett) who, seeing the constraints of British society circa 1930, embraces his sexuality in a time when even the words were criminal, sees through the sad folly of the British class and empire system, and eventually abandons England to become a spy for Russia. The played starred a young 21-year-old Rupert Everett and a 20-year-old Kenneth Branagh as Guy's heterosexual roommate Tommy Judd, an obsessed Marxist as ready to leap out of the norm of British society as Guy - but for different reasons. Director Marek Kanievska adapted Mitchell's challenging play for the screen, and in 1984 ANOTHER COUNTRY became a sterling recreation of the play and a controversial film introducing the extraordinarily talented and continuingly popular Rupert Everett (who remains one of the few 'out' actors enjoying success in Hollywood). Colin Firth assumed the role of Tommy and Cary Elwes became the gay love interest for Everett's Guy Bennett. The film is one of the finest examinations of the rigid, archaically proper British schools for young men (Eton) where class is paramount in importance, rank reigns, and medieval views of sexuality and out of line thought are treated with public corporal punishment and (worst of all!) the inability to rise in the ranks of the 'important' lads. Throughout the film there is a powerful parallel between Guy's striving to become the head of the class being thwarted by his pursuing is passion for his love of men, and the 'religious zeal' approach of Tommy's absorption in Marxism, seeing Communism as the only way to correct the 'vile sickness' of current British politics and social strata. The undercurrents of bigotry are brought into focus when a fine young lad (Martineau) is caught in a sexual act with one of his classmates and is shamed into hanging himself. And when Guy's sexual tryst with James Harcourt is 'discovered', Guy is beaten in front of his compatriots, prompting him to see (with Tommy in agreement) the dead-end of British society and leave the remnants of a once glorious empire behind.

    As a delightful Special Feature on this very well made DVD there is a scene from the stage production in the year prior to the film, and the dialogue between Rupert Everett and Kenneth Branagh is incisive and brilliant. This film is a masterpiece, not only in the screenplay, but also in the sensitive direction, the exquisite cinematography, and the amazingly superb acting of not only Everett and Firth, but of the entire large cast. An absolutely brilliant film.
  • brian_wescott6 September 2001
    I saw this movie again the other day and am impressed at how well it has held up. Though it's a little hard to follow the arcane hierarchies of 1930s British public school life, that is precisely the point-- these people are suffocating in the meaningless rituals of their class. Rupert Everett and Colin Firth give outstanding performances as the openly gay and communist members of their school, and the unfolding of the relationship between Everett and Cary Elwes is some of the most romantic footage I've ever seen. Though very few of us live in such a stratified social climate these days, we would do well to understand the webs of hierarchy and ritual that bind us all in one way or another.
  • Another Country was one of those films that both captured the spirit of an era and helped define it - in the best possible sense. While one can easily lump all 80s pop music and fashion together as over-styled and kitschy, it is not possible to do so with the films of that decade, certainly not the British ones, not with Chariots of Fire, Educating Rita, My Beautiful Launderette and Another Country so vividly remembered. These were works of art, perfectly weaving style and substance together. Another Country presents a complex tale with - what was/is to some - unpalatable subject matter, and indecipherable detail (the life of the British upper class is, and always was, amusing, bizarre, implausible. Gilbert and Sullivan built careers on this fact). Yet, there is no sign of attempts to simplify, or strip out the seemingly unnecessarily intricate, or to moralize - either way - beyond the context of the story, the homosexuality depicted. The result is a film that is detailed, rich, compelling and (in a strange way, despite the historical facts upon which the story is based) apolitical.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Forget the premise that homosexuality was the reason Burgess became a spy... a dubious conclusion. This movie is about ambition and how far one is willing to sacrifice one's principles to achieve it. The premise is explicitly stated in the opening frames with the voice-over from the aged Guy Bennett (fictionalized Burgess): "You've no idea what life in England in the 1930s was like. Treason and loyalty... they're all relative, you know. Treason to what? Loyalty to whom? That's what matters."

    It is the 1930s in a famous public school in England. Rupert Everett is the star turn as homosexual Guy Bennett, who longs to become a "God" (head boy) as a senior; Colin Firth plays the supporting role of his best friend Tommy Judd, a devout Communist. It was the first film for each actor and they're both terrific right out of the box.

    While Guy (RE) is self-consciously theatrical (he refers grandly to a "tumescent archway") the dialogue between the two roommates is simple and real. In one scene Guy puts a quick move on Tommy (CF). He comes up behind Tommy, puts one hand over his eyes to pull his head back and with the other rapidly starts unbuttoning Tommy's pajama shirt.

    G: Alone at last! T: (bored/amused) Get OFF. G: I'll get you one day. T: No you won't. G: Yes I will. Everyone gives in, in the end. It's Bennett's Law. T: I won't give in. G: Well, you're not normal. (later) G: The reason everyone gives in in the end is they get lonely, doing it on their own. They long for company. T: Well, I don't. Not your sort, anyway. G: (insisting) That's why my mother is marrying this awful Colonel person. T: It couldn't just possibly be that she loves him? G: Out of the question. He's got one of those awful little mustaches. Ghastly. Almost as much of a loather as my father was. T: (amused) You mean even you would draw the line? G: Don't be revolting. He's a grownup. T: Of course. And it's all just a passing phase. G: Exactly. Just like you being a Communist. T: (sarcastic) Ha ha. G: (pause) Judd-- T: Hmm? G: You and your usherette -- T: What about her? G: Is it really so different? T: From what? G: BOYS. T: Well how would I know? I've only ever had a girl.

    The whole scene takes place as the boys are changing the linens on their bunks, going down to the laundry room, folding sheets, getting new ones. It's a great, understated scene. Tommy Judd is calmly not threatened by Guy's flamboyance and homosexuality. What resonates throughout the movie is the feeling of genuineness and honesty between these two in a cavernous school where everything is about power, leverage, and bullying.

    The struggles in the movie concern ambition vs. principles. Guy is determined to be a God. Will Tommy sacrifice his principles for his friend's ambition? Will he sacrifice them simply for his friend? Meanwhile will Guy sacrifice his boyfriend for his own ambition?

    T: I can't do it. I just cannot be a prefect. G: Why not? T: I do have my reputation, you know. G: (snorts) Your what? T: I'm a school joke, I quite realize that. But I am, don't you think, a respected joke? I do at least stick to my principles. People appreciate that. I abandon them now --

    and he winds himself up into a passionate speech about how people will think he's a fake, Communists are fake, and Stalin's a fake! He's almost in tears -- and then the head boy comes and he has to dive under a table (he and Guy are out of bed after hours)!

    Finally: G: (speaking of the head boy): My God, that man is really cracking up. T: Liberals always do under pressure. G: You know, you're a really hard man, Tommy. T: I've no time for him. He just wants a nice easy life and a nice easy conscience. And he's got no right to either.

    There are a lot more great exchanges. G: (sarcastically, about Communism) Heaven on Earth? T: (calmly) Earth on earth. A just earth.

    The friendship between Guy Bennett and Tommy Judd seems far more touching and real -- far more the heart of the movie -- than the sketched-in affair between Guy and James Harcourt, the character played by Cary Elwes.

    The whole production is filled with dewy, beautiful boys, starting with Everett, who at 24 is painfully gorgeous with his big eyes and ripe, petulant mouth. Firth at 23 has the sweetness of youth but otherwise is allowed to appear rather skinny and plain. (No eyebrows, hair standing on end, and 1930s round spectacles.) But his eyes glow with intensity and commitment. You totally believe his passion. Very tough to believe it was his first time in front of a camera.

    The movie itself is far from perfect. Some might think it slow and rather precious. But the messages about ambition and loyalty are timeless, and the Everett/Firth scenes are wonderful.
  • Forget the prologue which preludes the long flashback which is the core of the movie.First scene:in a room,two boys make love while,in the main courtyard of the posh school (Eton?),a ceremony commemorates the dead soldier of WW1,with pump and circumstance:the two bedrocks of the family, Army and Religion taking in hand the third one:School.Behind these walls,inside these venerable buildings,mortal hatred ,intolerance and repression are looming.Outside,the splendid landscapes are unchanging,particularly this quiet river which comes back as a leitmotiv.And most of the students wants to keep the world as it is,because they know they are part of the privileged few.Their studies are a mere rehearsal of their life-to-be. Becoming a prefect,what a feat! Being called "god" what a honor! Being able to push the others out of your way,that makes you a man!

    Two young men refuse the rules of the game:the first one ,Tommy (a good Colin Firth),the most loyal character of a rather obnoxious. gathering.He sticks to his ideals,and he will die for them.He believes in Marx and in Stalin(we're in the thirties ) ;he would never betray anybody,and the audience sides with him most of the time. The second one ,Guy,(Rupert Everett at his best)is a gay,in love with a younger pal.He,too,rebels against this rigid institutions,but he's more complex:actually he tries to become a prefect and then a god,because he has kept his ambitions and he would easily opt for a compromise solution.He could but he will not..Homosexuality,when it's secret is no problem for the bourgeois society.Guy's character will mute and finally he realizes that he cannot live in the shadow.That's his downfall.

    No commies,no gays can be part of the crème de la crème.The posh school reputation,once the non-straight ones(in the general sense of the word)are eradicated,can sleep the sleep of the just.

    Sometimes compared with Lindsay Anderson's "If"(1970),its atmosphere is drastically different though :there's no dreamlike sequences here,no madness.It rather recalls "der junge Torless" (Schloendorff,1966)and it might have influenced James Ivory's "Maurice" (1986). An overlooked important movie.
  • Every actor in the movie is perfectly suited to their character, and you can't day that about every movie you see.

    Rupert is in love with a ray of sunshine in the human form of Cary Elwes, and Colin is screaming for the revolution to begin. The movie is about them, what living in England at the time would have been like, and what living in a boys school was like also.

    The boys seem to accept Rupert because it is widely assumed that he will grow out of it. When he declares it as a way of life, his unhappiness begins. He is able to be friends with Colin Firth because they are both outcasts in their way ("The Commie and the queer" is how he describes them at one point").

    The movie is very enjoyable and it is worth a look. You've spent ninety minutes doing stupider things than watching this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is ageing brilliantly well. OK, the end might, the chat about accepting your sexuality etc, be very much of its time and of the stage where the film originated, but the film is crisp and, despite its slowness, wonderfully alive. The classically beautiful photography also helps the timeless feel of it.

    In the scenes of Everett and Firth the film really comes alive, and the actors have hardly since been better. Firth of course has less to do but the strange Firth hallmark reserve - which Tom Ford exploited for A Single Man but for me, in most roles including that one, makes him somehow permanently fake - has not yet set in. Judd, the character, holds himself back but is present in a way that older Firth rarely manages. Everett, without a doubt, has never been better. Which, in itself, is a bit of a tragedy. Its a fantastic role but he is stunningly good, subtle and showy at the same time. No wonder that Orson Welles was impressed. His Guy is insolent, vulnerable, naive, world-wise, cynical, poetic, open, deceptive, gentle and ruthless. I was a bit of an admirer of Everett's work and persona even before seeing this film - he seems one of the last real people out there, in the homogenised, we're all just lovely people, really, fame-game arena - but find to my disappointment that his acting work is too often the least interesting thing about him. Which, truly, is a pity because as this film shows, he really has the goods as an actor - and clearly enough experience and emotional honesty in real life too - to actually really grab us, draw us in and make us feel for him, with him. But in a lot of his work it seems he rarely brings the full package of emotions to work, happy to perform a facet of a man for us - often a rather glib one - rather than a full creature. I'd love to see him do something brave again, as I am sure that the man and the actor he is now could wash the floor with his younger self, in terms of complex, deeply felt emotion.

    Another Country, with is milieu of extreme constraint, beautifully frames the feeling and behaviour of the boys it observes, and the focus on the endless rituals of the boarding school life also work to remind us how world is out to shape these boys (a kind of an anti-Harry Potter/Trinian's, in that aspect) and works still as a metaphor for society at large. In some ways times have changed less than we'd hope - or less than it looked like it would change, a few decades ago - even if caning is a distant memory.

    I wanted to give Another Country 9 stars but unfortunately, although the cast in uniformly very strong I feel that the third key role, Guy's love interest James, hasn't dated well and the performance is flat, leaving Everett to do all the work in their scenes. For the film to overcome the slight staginess of the ending and to give real meaning to the innocent way that Guy and James choose to conduct their romance when boys around them are clearly habitually doing much more would have needed an actor who could match Firth and Everett in terms of interpretation of a role.

    Oh, and people who can be bothered to complain about the old-man make up on Everett at the end - get a life. This is a film, all latex looks fake, even today, how ever much you choose to believe it, for what ever reason.
  • Although the closing titles contain the standard "all characters are fictitious" disclaimer, the scriptwriter Julian Mitchell has never denied that his main character Guy Bennett is a thinly-disguised portrait of Guy Burgess, one of the notorious Cambridge spy ring who acted for Soviet Russia. The film is mostly set in an English public school during the 1930s, based on Eton where Burgess was educated. (What shocked British society most about the spy ring was not so much the treachery of its members as the fact that most of them were from well-off Establishment families and educated at the country's most prestigious schools).

    At the heart of the film is the friendship between Bennett and another student, Tommy Judd. Although they are very different in personality, they are drawn to one another because both, in their own way, are rebels against the system. Judd, a committed Marxist, is a rebel with a cause who despises the school and all it stands for. Bennett is a rebel without a cause whose attitudes are rather contradictory. He can see the absurdity and hypocrisy of the public school system and of the Establishment in general, but still wants to benefit from that system. His greatest ambition is to become a "god", school slang for a senior prefect, regarded as the school's social elite. Much of the plot revolves around the machinations of various senior pupils to achieve this coveted distinction; Judd is virtually alone in disdaining it. At this stage Bennett is not actually a Communist; when Judd quotes Lenin's attack on Karl Kautsky, spouting a lot of Marxist jargon in the process, Bennett replies "Oh, that's bad!", but in a sarcastic tone of voice which implies that he neither knows nor cares what Judd is talking about.

    Bennett is also trying to come to terms with his homosexuality. He is engaged in a sexual relationship with another boy, James Harcourt, and there are indications that he has engaged in similar behaviour with others. The school's attitude to homosexuality, in fact, is fairly schizophrenic. Bennett and Harcourt are by no means the only pupils involved in gay relationships; indeed, another boy in Bennett's house has recently committed suicide after being caught in flagrante with his lover by a teacher. The greatest concern, however, of the staff and most of the prefects is the need to avoid scandal; gay relationships are quietly tolerated provided they are kept discreet. When one prefect, Fowler, attempts to crack down on homosexuality, motivated by Puritanical religious zeal, he makes himself very unpopular with his fellows, who fear that he might uncover things best left hidden. Bennett represents a challenge to this system of organised hypocrisy, not because he is gay but because he is temperamentally incapable of discretion. The greatest sin is to get caught, because that would force the authorities to take action they would prefer to avoid.

    If scandal does leak out, the authorities prefer to insist that the boys were merely experimenting or going through a youthful phase. Even the otherwise nonconformist Judd takes this line. (Unlike some of his colleagues, he is firmly heterosexual and regards homosexuality with bemused incomprehension). Bennett, however, realises that being gay is an inescapable part of who he is, not a mere passing fad, and that he will never love women. The film's implication, in fact, is that Bennett/Burgess spied for the Russians not because he was a convinced Communist but as an act of revenge against the British Establishment for rejecting him on account of his sexual orientation. He never asked himself whether his sexuality would be any more acceptable to the Soviet Establishment than it was to the British one. (By the time the film was made in 1984, homosexuality had been legalised in Britain but remained strictly banned in Russia).

    On one level the title "Another Country" is derived from a line in the hymn "I Vow to Thee, My Country", which we hear being sung, although on another it refers to the Soviet Union, the state to which Judd and ultimately Bennett give their loyalty, with perhaps a hidden reference to Orwell's theory of "transferred nationalism"- the idea that supporters of Stalin and Soviet Russia were motivated by the same type of uncritical, unthinking nationalism as flag-waving British jingoists, with the difference that their loyalty was transferred from their own country to a foreign one.

    "Another Country" was made by Goldcrest, the company which has become most closely associated with the great British cinematic revival of the eighties, but unlike some of their other productions it has largely disappeared from view over the last thirty years. In 1984, controversy over the spy ring was still raging. Leftists, who might under other circumstances have been sympathetic to Communism, savagely attacked the spies as prize examples of upper-class treachery and corruption, whereas some rightists, most notoriously Peregrine Worsthorne, attempted to defend them on the grounds that loyalty to one's beliefs could be more important than loyalty to one's country.

    Since the end of the Cold Way we no longer care as much about the Cambridge Spies as we once did, which may explain why "Another Country" can seem unfashionable these days. It is, however, a very good film, distinguished by an excellent performance from a young Colin Firth as Judd, surprisingly likable despite his extremist views, and an even better one from Rupert Everett as the floppy-haired, nonchalantly rebellious yet secretly vulnerable Bennett. It also has a lot to say about matters of perennial importance- loyalty to country, loyalty to friends, political idealism and the rights of sexual minorities. An intriguing and thought-provoking film. 8/10
  • send4patrick14 January 2003
    A quintessentially English film, with a style close to Brideshead Revisited.

    Stunning privilege intertwined with acute suffering.

    Haunting, trepid, futile, beautiful.

    My favourite quote: Interviewer: Is there anything you miss about England? Guy: I miss the cricket.
  • I haven't seen this movie in years. Perhaps it's time to watch it again. I was just looking at the credits and realized how many big names were in it. At the time, I didn't know any of them.

    The movie is visually stunning, with beautiful cinematography. And the actors aren't a burden to watch.

    One of the striking memories for me was that this was perhaps the first movie I ever say with an unapologetic portrayal of homosexuality, but the movie wasn't really (to my mind) *about* homosexuality. It was one facet of a gay character's personality, and it was addressed as a personality component that manifests differently for different people. For some, it is a phase. For others, a burden. For others still, just a fact.

    This is not an hour and a half you'll want back when it's over.
  • Adapted from Julian Mitchell's eponymous play, ANOTHER COUNTRY is a biographic recount of Guy Burgess' repressive campus days, which foreshadows his later defection to Russia as a spy.

    Set in 1930s, in an all-male British public school, Guy (Everett) is a homosexual student with a casual and elegant bearing, his best friend is a heterosexual communist Tommy (Firth), both spurn the stiff hierarchy system of the school, from junior to prefect until the gods, the oppressive atmosphere is stifling. Triggered by a newly suicide accident owing to homosexual action, the management tier restricts any activity likewise. Guy finds himself more and more befuddled about his future and a cute peer James (Elwes) has come into his life, whom he is instantly besotted with. But with their disruptive nature, both Guy and Tommy have to pay their prices and end up as expendable pawns in the school's power struggle.

    The film runs within a neat 90-minutes, starts with a writer interviews Guy in Moscow in 1980s (in my opinion it would be much better to hire a real aging actor for the role instead of using the horrible make-up on Everett), immediately the film flashbacks to Guy's youth, carefully limns how the formulaic and orthodox school life slowly erodes his belief and viewpoint of the world, but not his sexuality. Both Rupert Everett and Colin Firth are in their early twenties and their untainted countenances could only arouse a nostalgic reminiscence which luckily doesn't overshadow their excellent performances here, especially Firth, an idealistic socialist, a devoted friend, the two-hander between him and Everett gains lots of favorable impressions for the film while Elwes and Everett's touchy-feely moments looks a shade phony and effete.

    Nevertheless, I give an encourage 8 out 10 for this film, director Marek Kanievska's debut, it has a killing score, mellifluous and nerve-soothing, the script is potent and caustic in supporting the film's narrative arc with a great ensemble and my sweet spot is the period backdrop, whose canon and moral leverage are stinkingly degenerate, but all its trappings are shining with their own allure to generations after and this film is a lucky beneficiary as well.
  • dawh116 September 2004
    Guy Burgess became a communist, spied for the Soviet Union, and lived there for the rest of his life after he was found out. Why? Because, as far as we can tell from this movie, he was a homosexual, and British law was extremely harsh toward male homosexuals. That makes no sense at all. Soviet law was also extremely repressive against homosexuals in those days. No one would have chosen the Soviet Union because they thought it was more hospitable for gays. Since Guy Burgess was a real person and this film is based on his life, he must have had some other reason for becoming a communist (he wasn't one in his school days) that has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. What was it? The movie doesn't tell us.
  • This movie, based on a play, presents the tension between class distinctions in a rigidly victorian society and the passion of basic human attraction. The setting is an all-boys military-style British school. The fact that one of the boys is willing to let his homosexuality be exposed even though others at the school are also homosexual dramatizes the hypocrisy of a world that is more concerned with appearances than with the reality of the human heart.

    Some viewers may be put off by the stuffy atmosphere that pervades the story, but that very atmosphere is the real villain of the plot.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Initially I went into this movie with absolutely no idea what was going to go on other than that one of the characters was going to be gay. I decided to feel my way blindly through it, and did so happily as I'm a fan of Firth's work. I'm happy to say it exceeded any expectations I could have had, and that it's one of those impressionable movies you think about for weeks.

    I never had seen Rupert Everett act in anything, so he was a new face to me. I found his character to be compelling, and quite loved the way he made him charming and witty, but brilliant and beautiful, too. Two of the best dialogues delivered in the movie were by Everett, and he delivered them with so much passion I almost cried.

    The thing I loved the most about this movie was the friendship shared between Judd and Bennett. While most incredibly unlike, Judd and Bennett were united in their charm and their difference. Judd, a young communist, and Bennett, an openly gay man in a society so punishable of such acts. I found the relationship to be refreshing. The way Judd discredited Bennett's emotion as something unserious in one scene, and the way Bennett lashed at him and told him how unfair it was that he did that, was perhaps my favorite part. Both Firth and Everett delievered astounding performances for people that young, and I'm surprised this didn't propel Firth into stardom before Pride and Prejudice did. I absolutely recommend this to anyone interested in films like "Maurice" or "Call Me By Your Name" and only wish that it had more popularity; "Another Country" certainly is a hidden gem.
  • For English of a certain age - and possibly for those from other countries - the phrase 'the third man' and the triumvirate of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald McLean (until the eventual flight to Moscow of Philby, it was simply Burgess and McLean) have a certain resonance.

    In later years the trio expanded to include a knight of the realm who eventually rose to become the Queen of England's art expert - something of an about-turn for a traitor - and is also said to have included one John Cairncross as 'the fifth man', although that is still in dispute.

    Over the years, of course, and with changing geopolitical obsessions and problems the Cambridge spies attract less interest if only because Islamic State/Isil/IS/Isis and various other offshoots of Al Qaeda have been passed the mantle of 'the enemy' and, well, it was all 55 years ago. We have new 'spies' and their stories to get excited about.

    All four (or five) spies have an interesting story to tell and to this day it is difficult to establish quite why the products of England's privileged class should have decided to bite the hand which fed them. Blunt, certainly, will have wanted to undo his past, if only because the social position he attained as Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures was one which the old queen enjoyed a great deal. Philby seems, since his childhood in India where until the age of five he spoke both English and Urdu fluently and daily played with the children of his parents servants, to have suffered from a kind of split personality - I don't mean that in any medical sense - and had no difficulty hobnobbing with wealthy colleagues down in the club before meeting his controller and sending other colleagues to certain death. He was said to have been a real charmer so perhaps he was simply a sociopath who could not empathise.

    Anther Country is about Guy Burgess, also like Blunt homosexual, and if you don't know much about him, the film's rather too neat explanation of why he became a traitor seems a tad glib. But in fact Burgess was nothing if not superficial. He seems to have been the least ideologically inspired of the Cambridge Four and, being a huge drinker, was a constant source of concern to the others and his Soviet controllers that he would while drunk give the game away.

    He and McLean were the first to break cover and head for Soviet Russia when it seemed likely that McLean, a diplomat in Britain's Washington embassy, was about to be unmasked. It has often been suggested that Burgess need not have fled: no one was onto him and his treachery was only discovered once he had hightailed it to Moscow.

    Some even suggest that he fully expected to return to Britain, though what he thought might be made of his actions back in London only the Lord knows. Certainly, he didn't take to Moscow life and (according to Wikipedia) had all his clothes tailored in London's Savile Row and shipped to him in Moscow.

    The other notable aspect of Another Country is its portrayal of life at an English public school (the name, helpfully for Americans we give some of our private schools). The film takes place in the Thirties so I can't comment on whether aspects of such a school are exaggerated. But I attended a Roman Catholic public school (as a boarder) for five years in the Sixties and I can confirm that many of the absurdities prevailed, as did the rigid hierarchy of boys. We were still being caned for the silliest of reasons - though we called it being beaten - though in the more enlightened Sixties this could no longer be done by prefects.

    The film takes place in the summer term when the air was sufficient balmy for the boys to take midnight walks or meet for midnight trysts. I remember many pleasant afternoons lying in the sunshine under a tree, doing nothing but gazing through the leaves into a blue sky. But I also remember the sheer misery of having to bathe and shower in cold water - not for any character building but because the school was too tight-fisted to get the hot water system modernised and repaired. I remember the goddam awful pigswill which we were served up as 'food', and the almost frightening speed with which violence could erupt for no very good reason. Oh, and I also remember all the talk of 'minnows' and boys that someone 'fancied' though not of it, thank God came my way.

    So I suspect Another Country holds a certain attraction for its portrayal of the kind of life lived at such a school, although a portrayal now long outdated - corporal punishment is no longer legal at any school. The story is rather slight, the boys rather too articulate, speaking as they do as characters might in a play or a film. Or perhaps as I am now well beyond the age they were, I simply can't remember how young folk talk and talked.

    The explanation as to what decided Guy Burgess/Bennett to choose the dark side and betray his country - because he had been cheated out of the bauble he craved more than any other - was, perhaps, a touch to pat. There again the real Guy Burgess was such a loose cannon who didn't seem to believe much for very long anyway, perhaps it really was like that. The film is, perhaps, best viewed as a well-made period piece.
  • RickManhattan16 December 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    Whatever others think of the superficiality of the story, I can't think of another movie that explores so provocatively the interaction of sexuality and politics/ideology. We have had stories that show characters blackmailed or led by passion to deny their beliefs, but here we have a character whose alienation from classist, homophobic, hypocritical upper-class English society in a boarding school that can't but be Eton proceeds to betray his country. Those who criticize the script seem not to appreciate the sharp critique of English society in comments like "They are not empire builders, the are empire rulers." Yes, there is snarkiness and bitchiness, but that goes with the territory, underground public-school gay underculture of the period. The film is a landmark in frankness and insight into the psychology of treason. Burgess, McLean and eventually Blount carried out the most destructive spying of the period, and they were inspired not by greed (they were after all insiders) but by principle, however mistaken that was, and as the movie shows, by social and sexual ostracism.
  • A magnificent enchanting and deeply touching tale of class and hypocrisy surrounding the young inhabitants of a history English public school. This is a highly moving expose of the supposed teenage school days of infamous spy Guy Burgess is rich, deep and luxurious. It is aesthetically pleasing with authentic although slightly mixed locations and the moody atmospherics employed heighten the enjoyment factor no end. The running undercurrents of class, breeding, expectation and tradition are the key features of this moving and entertaining story showing the underbelly of a traditionally British educational establishment.

    Rupert Everett stars as both an old Guy Bennett in a small apartment in snowy cold Moscow recounting his school days to a young female writer as well as the fresh faced young man he was in 1931. His performance bristles with the authenticity of class and ability. He is perfect as the too clever by half and defiantly too clever for his own good schoolboy Guy heading toward his last year of school, hoping to receive the adulation and power of school god. Such dizzy heights seem well within his grasp, after all, this is what his entire school days have been building up to, plus it's the level his ancestry achieved in generations gone by.

    His best friend is the broodingly attractive Marx reading communist loving Tommy Judd, played with skill and passion by the young Colin Firth, already demonstrating the skills that have taken him to the very top of the British acting profession. Guy and Tommy are friends, mainly because they are on the outside of the establishment, in that they simply don't follow the accepted norms of behaviour. Guy simply for his open homosexuality and Judd for his communist Marxist leanings and beliefs. Their friendship is one of surprising depths, based on mutual respect and affection, a respect that would later have far-reaching implications. The public school setting of the 1930's could really be anywhere in the United Kingdom and at any decade of the last one hundred and fifty years or so, such is the timeless charm of tradition, still played out in many schools up and down the country to this day. A master on his way somewhere hears a noise and stumbled upon Martineau, an endearingly cute blonde haired lad and a boy from another house engaged on a sexual act in one of the school changing rooms. It is a mutual act, which we are lead to believe is commonplace in the darker places of a school of this type and time and is usually ignored, a blind eye turned to it. However, there are no blind eyes when it comes to the masters and Martineau faces expulsion for the most scandalous of reasons, a fate he just cannot allow to endure. Thus, the poor troubled boy takes his own life in the school chapel.

    Master and pupils alike are aghast at this course of action and they must pull together to prevent a scandal striking at the school, for all their sakes, they pull ranks and tighten the positions and time to rule with a rod of steel. What follows is essentially a power-based annihilation of homosexuality that may or may not be prevalent in each house of the school. Bennett, who is rather more open than most about his preference, is subject to increased scrutiny and investigation. The unspoken message seems to be that no gay boy will be allowed as a school god; it is a simple as that. No commies and no queers..... Read more and find out where this film made it in the Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time book, search on Amazon for Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time, or visit -
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As the story opens, a British traitor is talking about the beginnings of his rebellion at a posh public school in the 1930s. In a flashback, we follow classmates Guy and Tommy (Rupert Everett and Colin Firth); Guy is struggling with hiding his homosexuality and Tommy is a budding Marxist.

    This fictionalized story of infamous spy Guy Burgess' youth is a fascinating look at that very British institution, the public school with its young aristocrats luxuriating in their privileged lives. Though the movie moves very slowly and has little action, I still enjoyed the ambiance and the gorgeous scenery in and around Oxford. Everett and Firth are amazingly young and give excellent performances. It is interesting to note a youthful Earl Spencer playing one of the students (good job!) and some filming was even done at Althorp, the Spencer home.

    On the downside, the story fails to fully explain why Guy became a Russian spy and his "old man" hair and make-up are truly ridiculous, but I still recommend the movie as an enjoyable look at traditional school life.
  • As far as I can tell, this sums up the lucid moral of the film, for to brush what the film actually contemplates is a risky business.

    Perhaps it achieves a discreet, demonstrative style in the scenes with the juniors, who may actually be the true Marxist, lilliputian counterweight to the ideological tirades, a style which is best allied with the performances' muted quality.

    As another reviewer shrewdly noted, one wonders if Colin Firth was ever a boy, that is how haunting a note he strikes, and with a sneer in his voice that maybe outshines even Michael Cane's, given his age.

    Rupert Everett turns a cautious, elegant performance; have we actually come to appreciate his distinct comic, perhaps signature Wildean, timing (well, better serving him in dramatic films)?

    But what will stay with me is the first amorous meeting between Benett and Harcourt, the first lines spoken and framed ideally by Elwes' flushed face and the - already enamored - slight twitches that betray him and convey a feeling of unspeakable beauty, a feeling of first -.

    Excuse me for being rhapsodic, excuse Cary Elwes for afterwards portraying an inexperienced, somewhat floppy youth (yet with a charismatic aura due perhaps to the fact that this is his first role, and with a platonic passivity that retains all the ambiguities of this kind of love). Forget the confusing matter of the film's ideological, biographical, theatrical or what stitches, see how it frames first love (we only come to see a handshake - has a handshake ever been so evocative? - and an embrace, not a kiss, nor a caress) in the premises and remember how wisely the director makes James Harcourt exit: he does not reciprocate Everett's distant salutation.

    If the film achieves an intuition, I think it is this grim one.

    Along with stating that thick makeup of Victorian proportions cannot convince the youthful body underneath to be old enough, or irrelevant enough in the U.S.S.R..
  • Why did this one Guy Burgess, of the multitudes (according to the movie) who engaged in gay sex at prep school, end up betraying his country and class to the Stalinist soviets, and why should we care? You'll never learn from this movie. As best I can tell from it, Burgess cared nothing about the rights of the working classes, and had no particular issues with the extreme privileges of the oligarchy in England. Homosexuality certainly wouldn't have stood in his way if he had been more discreet. In fact he seems to have ratted out of a fit of pique over being outmanoeuvred in the competition for the most privileged rank.

    I saw no reason to admire the Burgess character. The villain Fowler was only guilty of petty stiff-neckedness, as far as I could see, Judd was perhaps admirable, but flat, and in fact the most interesting character was Barclay, the reasonable prefect.

    This was an interesting introduction to the intricate politics of elite British boys' schools. The boys were certainly good looking, but it was not a sexy movie, the drama fell pretty slack towards the end, and I'm just as ignorant of the interesting career of Guy Burgess as I was before.
  • But for the scenes taken inside the charming, old universities, this film was a bust for me. It was all about Guy Bennett's homosexuality and his need to fulfill his desires, pursuing other young men. The other was Tommy Judd playing the Marxist wannabe. If you enjoy watching a man fawning over another man, this is your film.
  • When 'Another Country' first appeared in the '80s I watched it over and over, loving the settings and the acting. Now, 20 years on, I have just acquired the DVD and have had to alter my original enthusiasm to a milder level of enjoyment... and an added irritation and impatience with the subject matter.

    What set my teeth against this film most recently was listening to the adolescent and empty-headed commentary by Rupert Everett as interviewed in one of the special features on the DVD release. Looking at his feet as he speaks he drawls out something to the effect that life in England in the 30s was horrible. Really? I thought. I suppose life anywhere at anytime is always horrible for someone but most people seem to rub along quite nicely, thank you very much. That train of thought got me onto the nature of "rebels" and "causes" and so on.

    Yes, for homosexuals, England was a harsh place to be with its brutal laws against such private behavior, something that is always a danger when huge governmental systems get "law-crazy". But most homosexual men managed to have a good time and hold down decent careers (a conclusion reached as a result of reading a great deal of historical biography from English men and women of the 20th century, both gay and straight). Of course, those people who managed to work within the system at the time would nowadays be dismissed as "cop-outs" by those in the gay community who willfully get in peoples' faces about their personal sexual preference. But not all gay people feel the need to air their personal behavior in public.

    But to return to the film; I concluded that Guy Bennett (Everett) was simply a spoiled, over-indulged prat (that's English for brat) who would not curb his foot-in-mouth problem with discretion and wisely keep his personal sexual preferences to himself, as did most other people in that situation at the time.

    The English "public" school system was indeed a tough experience, as I gather, and prone to a militaristic and dutiful code of behavior that we today would find totally unacceptable, for better or worse... that is arguable. But people at that time, at least in the ruling classes, felt it their duty to put country ahead of themselves and knuckled under to the system. We don't understand that now, being a more self-indulgent and immature society.

    'Another Country' is the story of rebels without a cause, or at least, rebels with a questionable cause based on questionable motivations. That is where I have lost patience with this once highly revered film.

    It is still beautiful to watch, however. The cinematography is superb, as is the music and the acting. As a period piece showing the inner workings of a place like Eton College it is fascinating. The script, such as it is, is excellent. The most involving aspect of the story is the relationship between Guy and James Harcourt (Cary Elwes) who become lovers, though this part of the whole story is touched on lightly and never becomes salacious or "over-egged" as gay themed films are now.

    I still like this film well enough but it has not come down the twenty years since its creation with much grace or dignity.

    Colin Firth's character (Tommy Judd) was always tiresome with his endless communist tirades and pontificating, but over time, ironically, his performance holds up the best. Other facets of his character, once past his worship of Stalin and Lenin, such as his un- swerving adherence to an idealistic vision, have come into focus more clearly and keeps the film from becoming just a mushy love story tagging around behind the flimsy excuse for Guy Bennett's treason against the country that gave him everything he had.

    Still worth a look-see but not the "masterpiece" I once thought it was.
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